After being terminated from a job, an employee may apply for Unemployment Compensation benefits through the State of Florida Agency of Workforce Administration. The employer will be notified of the application and given a chance to respond. An agency administrator will then make a decision based on the paperwork submitted by the two parties. The losing party will be advised of the decision and given the right to appeal. If an appeal is taken, the matter will be set for an evidentiary hearing before an appeals referee.
Hearings are usually conducted by telephone, with the appeals referee contacting the parties from his or her office in Tallahassee, Florida. If the employee will be represented at the hearing by an attorney, the appeals referee should be provided with this information in writing in advance, including where to contact the employee (usually at the attorney's office).
Importantly, no matter which party is the appellant, i.e., the party challenging the administrative ruling, at the evidentiary hearing the burden of proving misconduct* to deny benefits is always on the employer. Cullen v. Neighborly Senior Services, 775 So.2d 392 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Not only is the burden of proof on the employer, but the proof must be by a preponderance of the evidence. Tallahassee Housing Authority v. Unemployment Appeals Commission, 483 So.2d 413 (Fla. 1986).